Dasha Tretiu

Director, Strategic Sourcing
Novant Health
Kannapolis, NC

Please describe your career in healthcare. What interested you about a career in healthcare?

My first exposure to the local healthcare industry in Charlotte, N.C. was as a project manager for a group of Turkmenistan physicians, who came to our city to learn about evidence-based practices for disease management from local organizations. I attended multiple meetings with the group, learning about complexities of healthcare and what local IDNs are doing to improve the health of our community.

This initial experience led me to apply to UNC Charlotte’s Master of Health Administration (MHA) program. During my time in the program, I interned and volunteered at Novant Health in the supply chain department and when an opportunity to take on a full-time position opened, I started working at Novant Health as a supply chain data analyst.

Since then, I’ve worn many different hats, growing in my career while also gaining a lot of operational experience throughout the supply chain department. I was a contract administrator facilitating management of executed agreements. I was promoted to a senior financial analyst and focused on categorizing $300 million of spend data to facilitate data analysis and spend management. I spent seven years as a sourcing manager, driving clinical variation reduction efforts, identifying operational improvement projects and fostering cross-functional relationships to support our clinicians in their vision of delivering remarkable care.

Today, I’m a director of strategic sourcing. I support my team in managing physician preference contracts like neuro, ortho and HVI. I assist our product category leaders to achieve their goals, adapt to changing environments and remain engaged in their job. We have a very senior group of team members in strategic sourcing – most have been in their role at Novant Health for over five years. There’s a wealth of knowledge and experience in our group, but the challenge is to continue to engage the team to ensure there’s no burnout. Even though we continue to face pressures to deliver exceptional savings value year over year, the team has time and again risen to the challenge and surpassed expectations.

What do you like about working in the healthcare supply chain? Was it a position you sought out or found out about once you began working in the field?

I like knowing that the work that we do is valuable. Even though we do not directly care for our community’s health, I know that our work is essential in making sure that our physicians and clinicians have the product and services that they need to treat those most vulnerable, while at the same time our healthcare system remains competitive in the market.

I learned about the strategic sourcing department while I was an intern at Novant Health. I was immediately interested and worked my way to being part of the team.

In what ways has the supply chain changed over the last 2-3 years from your perspective?

All supply chains faced unprecedented pressures with the COVID-19 pandemic over the last few years, but none more than healthcare supply chains. We had to mitigate unprecedented backorders, identify unconventional sources of PPE, and ensure that our teams are safe – all while caring for our communities.

In general, supply chains are becoming more automated so there’s a lot of investment in technology and raw materials. Products are becoming more expensive, so there’s added pressure to reduce expenses. And the legal and compliance landscape is becoming stricter and more demanding.

We are all facing barriers to an efficient operation. Certain lean operation practices don’t work in healthcare anymore because we cannot end up in a situation where we don’t have enough supplies to care for our patients. Overstocking in certain instances is driving up demand and consequently prices.

In our supply chain, we used to advocate for vendor market share commitment and standardization to drive out variation and get more aggressive prices. But today, with so many backorders across multiple service lines, we can no longer accommodate that practice, so we are changing the way we contract. Unfortunately, vendors are not always supportive of multi-source contracts when they used to enjoy majority market share in a category, and we must make decisions when there’s a tradeoff between savings and supply stability.

What are some of the big challenges your supply chain team is facing in 2023? What’s the most rewarding project you’ve worked on recently?

In my opinion, one of the biggest challenges is integrating environmental sustainability goals into our operations long term. I am personally very passionate about environmental stewardship. To do our part in supply chain and specifically strategic sourcing, we are focused on embedding sustainability as part of our total cost of ownership assessment.

I began a supply chain sustainability green team, which focuses on identifying projects that could help Novant Health reduce its carbon footprint. Our organization set 2030 and 2050 science-based targets to achieve net-zero, and supply chain plays a big part in ensuring that we meet these goals.

While it’s a serious culture change to ensure that sustainability is evaluated alongside of financial and operational value, in the long run it will help with supply disruption and for us to deliver on our mission of improving the health of our communities.

This year, our group is focusing on projects to reduce the amount of waste that goes into our landfills. The surgical services team is setting goals to address all the wasted supplies and measuring their improvements monthly. Strategic sourcing is partnering with vendors to find opportunities to reuse, reduce and recycle. While some changes like switching from Styrofoam cups to recycled ones will come at a moderate cost increase, others like switching from disposable catheters to a reprocessed alternative in an EP lab deliver significant financial savings.

Does your organization have a formal or informal leadership development plan? Have you had any mentors that have provided guidance?

We have a formal leadership development plan once a team member reaches a certain level of leadership in the organization (directors and above), at which point there are a lot of training opportunities and exceptional resources to grow leadership and communication skills as well as learn change management.

I have been extremely fortunate to work as part of a team that valued personal and professional development and provided opportunities so that I could practice my leadership skills. My vice president and senior vice president have both been supportive and provided guidance to ensure that I continue to grow within the organization.

I’ve always been encouraged to ask questions, voice my opinions and take chances to develop as a leader without worrying about being silenced or judged. There’s a lot to be said about developing a work camaraderie when we can all rely on each other and especially on our senior leadership.

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